Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon

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Alida Maria Knös


Hostess of cultural salons

Alida Knös hosted a literary salon in Uppsala and was known for her original expression of romanticism.

Alida Knös was born in 1786 during her father’s third marriage. She lost her father when she was just eight years old. She and her mother then moved from Högärdet to her maternal grandfather’s home, Åsbräcka in Västergötland. The young Alida Knös was described as “an appealing and talented 17-year-old girl, -- a magnet who drew the local young men, particularly the literary and artistic types, into her mother’s hospitable home”. She was musical and composed, sang and played the piano. In 1810 she married Gustav Knös, professor of Greek and Eastern languages. He was ordained in 1817 and then served as a vicar in Västeråker and Dalby parish. Gustav Knös had been exposed to Swedenborg’s teachings in his childhood and was clearly influenced by them. He thus distanced himself from the church’s teachings on the holy trinity and reconciliation. The couple had two daughters. Their eldest daughter, Nanny, died in 1821 just nine years old. When Gustav died in 1828 Alida Knös was left alone with her 13-year-old daughter Thekla Knös. Erik Gustaf Geijer petitioned King Karl XIV John in order to procure a small pension that would house them.

Alida and Thekla Knös were known in Uppsala as “the wee Knöses”, and their house was called “the wee nest”. Many of the town’s literary and musical men would attend salons at their home after having visited more grandiose salons at Malla Silverstolpe’s home. The evenings would start with a public reading, usually of one of the attendees’ own writings. Questions and discussions were invited, in which the two women were active participants. After dinner there would be musical performances. “The wee nest” was home to games of charades, singing and the founding of the order of Pimpinella, in accordance with the ideals of Bellman. The furniture was covered in silks and parts of the furnishings were overgrown by plants. The romanticist idolatry of nature and fantasy influenced the late romantic ideal of a bourgeois home. In the foreword to Gluntarne Gunnar Wennerberg lovingly described the Knös home “where they lived their lives surrounded by flowers and paintings, only entering the realm of reality in cases of emergency”.

Alida Knös died in 1855 and is buried in the family grave at the Gamla cemetery in Uppsala.

Anders Jarlert
(Translated by Alexia Grosjean)

Published 2018-03-08

You are welcome to cite this article but always provide the author’s name as follows:

Alida Maria Knös,, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Anders Jarlert), retrieved 2024-06-17.

Other Names

    Maiden name: Olbers

Family Relationships

Civil Status: Widow
  • Mother: Anna Mariana, kallad Nanny, Olbers, född Ahlberg
  • Father: Levinius, kallad Levin, Olbers
  • Brother: Daniel Nicolaus Olbers
more ...


  • Non-profit work: Salongsvärdinna


  • Friend: Gunnar Wennerberg
  • Friend: Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom
  • Friend: Malla Silfverstolpe
more ...


  • Pimpinella Orden
    Medgrundare, medlem


  • Birthplace: Fors
  • Fors
  • Åsbräcka
more ...


Further References